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Tierra Verde player scores his 1st tourney win

Nigel Mitten of Tierra Verde scored his first tournament win this month, taking the boys 18 tennis title in the Independence Day Classic at Royal Racquet Club in Clearwater.

Seeded third in the division, Mitten didn't lose a set in three matches to reach the final with top seed Jarred Snyder of Clearwater. In the final, Mitten upset Snyder 6-1, 6-2.

"I played pretty well all-around," Mitten explained. "In the final, it seemed I couldn't miss anything. I especially was hitting some decisive shots on short balls."

Mitten, a native of the Cayman Islands, trains with Shelley Caldwell in Tierra Verde. Caldwell said Mitten was the No. 1 junior player in his homeland and has unlimited talent.

"Nigel is just beginning to recognize his talent," said Caldwell, a master professional with more than 40 years of teaching experience. "He is gifted and it's a matter of him getting his head together to bring everything else together."

Mitten's first tournament win was a confidence builder and one he hopes will help him continue to be successful. Next weekend he will compete in a state-sanctioned junior tournament at the Bardmoor Tennis and Fitness Club in Largo. Another win would be nice, he said, but most important, the Thom Howard Academy senior is working toward improving his non-resident ranking and securing a college scholarship.

Other local winners in Royal's state-sanctioned event included Jennifer Kilpatrick of Clearwater (girls 12) and Aleksey Bubis (boys 16). Finalists were Michelle and George Navas of Belleair (girls and boys 10), Kevin Zimmerman of Treasure Island (boys 14) and Earl Babista of Largo (boys 16).

JUNIORS AT NATIONALS: Six girls and seven boys were invited to this week's U.S. Tennis Association National Clay Court Championships. Janet Walker, Christa Grey and Christine Weber are in Memphis, Tenn., and Adrian Pagani, Danny McCain and Kent Wright are in Louisville, Ky., all in the 18s competition.

Lori Grey traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., for the girls 16 competition, and Joel Berman and Kevin and Kinzie Wright are in Nashville, Tenn., for boys 16.

Kelly McCain and Nicole Cercone are in Plantation for the girls 14 tournament, and Reinaldo Valor is in Fort Lauderdale for the boys 14.

ZONAL TEAMS: Kelly Nelson of St. Petersburg and Jennifer Kilpatrick of Clearwater join a statewide 12-and-under girls team of 25 in Nashville, for the July 20-26 USTA Zone Team Championships. Marc Sawyer of Largo was selected for the boys team.

Players will compete in singles, doubles and mixed doubles with teams from the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic, Southern and Western USTA sections.

Paul Sindhunatha of St. Petersburg and Jason Heller of Treasure Island are two of Florida's five coaches.

ADULT REGIONALS: Next weekend, 10 Pinellas teams travel to the Longboat Key Club in Sarasota for the USTA Adult League Regional Championships. Winners advance to the state championships Aug. 16-18 in Orlando.

Five teams represent the women's division: Feather Sound (3.0), Countryside (3.5), East Lake Woodlands (4.0), McMullen (4.5) and Bardmoor (5.0). Men's teams are from Feather Sound (3.0), East Lake Woodlands (3.5), McMullen (4.0), the Racquet Club of St. Petersburg (4.5) and Innisbrook (5.0).